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For Revolution, “Fluid Attack” Stems From September Lineup Changes

Balance, chemistry key for Revolution as club tries to maintain its playoff position

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In September, Jay Heaps has continued his season-long shuffle with the Revolution starting XI. He’s drawn Kelyn Rowe into a center attacking midfield role. He’s featured Lee Nguyen and Juan Agudelo in front of a diamond midfield. And he’s integrated Kei Kamara back into a lineup that once struggled to create and score goals.

Yet for the first time in 2016, all of this tinkering has yielded consistent results. Dating back to September 3, the Revs have won three straight league matches by a combined score of 8-2. This run has pushed the club above the red line in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s just focusing on the next game and putting together complete games and performances, focusing on one play at a time,” Heaps says. “I thought we did a good job of that on Saturday night in Montreal and we just have to use this week to build on that.”

Heaps’ attack—no matter who he features in the gameday 11—appears as focused as ever.

“It’s not supposed to be one focus on one guy saying that’s where all the goals are going to come from” says Kei Kamara. “When you can balance stuff like that, it makes things a lot easier. It’s team play. It’s not individual play, which is really good.”

Though Kamara scored in the first minute of Saturday’s win vs. Montreal, he hardly represents the Revs’ only offensive contributor. While returning from a stint with the Sierra Leone National Team, Kamara watched Agudelo and Nguyen develop much-needed chemistry with the Revolution midfield. This rapport made all the difference during Kamara’s start on Saturday, his first since August 28.

“It was good to get Lee and Juan and Kei together in a fluid attack,” Heaps says. “All of them had a lot of touches, all of them found the ball in different and dangerous areas, and that’s the key. ...if there’s not a chemistry, if there’s not a lot of touches within the attacking four or five that we have, then you’re going to struggle.”

Heaps knows this struggle well; his team failed to establish a balanced approach for much of the season’s first six months. But now, with just four matches remaining on the calendar, all of that has changed.

“I think right now you really don’t want to be in this position where every game matters, but everything is on the line,” Heaps says. “We’ve started that playoff mentality and we have to continue to play one game at a time.”

The Revolution can stay in playoff position with a win against Columbus on Sunday.